Hawaiian Tourism Drought in Las Vegas Blamed for 300 Boyd Gaming Layoffs

Posted on: October 8, 2020, 09:37h. 

Last updated on: October 8, 2020, 12:43h.

Boyd Gaming announced it will ax 284 more jobs at two of its downtown Las Vegas properties, the California Hotel and Casino and Main Street Station.

Boyd Gaming
Despite its name, Boyd’s California is a Hawaiian-focused casino resort and the premier destination for visitors from the Aloha State. (Image: Boyd Gaming)

The new layoffs come three months after the Las Vegas locals market giant announced thousands of job losses because of the economic pressures of the coronavirus. The accouterment impacted around 25 percent of its workforce in 10 states.

The company told employees that the latest round of layoffs was a “direct result” of declines in tourism to Las Vegas, in particular the Hawaiian market. The 284 workers will be discharged on Nov. 13.

No End in Sight

“When the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, we hoped that the disease would be under control and that the regulatory restrictions on our operations and the sudden decrease in visitors would be short-lived,” the company wrote in a notice to employees last month. “As we are all aware, the pandemic continues with no predictable date for its end.

“Because of the unforeseeable and dramatic continuing impacts of pandemic-related restrictions on our customers and our business, Boyd Gaming is giving as much notice as is practicable,” Boyd continued.

The job losses will impact a range of employees, including dealers, food servers, guest room attendants, and custodians.

Hawaii’s ‘Ninth Island’

Downtown and especially the California Hotel are hugely popular destinations for package vacationers from Hawaii, where all forms of gambling are illegal.

Despite its name, “The Cal” is a Hawaiian-focused property, with its Hawaiian food and “Holo Holo” cocktail bar. Legend has it that, after building The Cal from the ground up in 1974, Sam Boyd was unable to attract his target Californian clientele, and so pivoted to Hawaiians, appearing on local TV spots in the Aloha State in an effort to build interest in Las Vegas.

Boyd’s marketing to the islands has been credited with building a strong Hawaiian community in Las Vegas, which has been called “Hawaii’s Ninth Island.”

About 1 in 10 citizens of Hawaii visit Las Vegas each year, with many visiting two or three times per year, according to UNLV. Almost all — around 80 to 90 percent — stay at Boyd properties, the Las Vegas Sun reported in 2012.

But Hawaii imposed strict travel restrictions in March, including a 14-day quarantine period for anyone traveling between the islands or arriving from elsewhere, including the mainland US.

In March, Hawaiian airlines suspended flights between the islands and the mainland, although these were gradually reinstated over the summer. Flights from Honolulu to Las Vegas were resumed just two days ago.